Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Steps to the Christmas Ornament

If you remember on the 12th, it was not only my birthday, but our 17th wedding anniversary.  We travel somewhere every year for our anniversary even if it is just for the weekend.  The other part of that tradition is we collect an ornament from our travels and a few years ago had enough that we now have an anniversary tree just for these ornaments.  Now before you get too impressed or too disgusted with the “sweetness” we were just discussing these ornaments and struggled to remember what last year’s was!  We generally have to take them out and read the list I’ve made to remember when and where we’ve been.  Of course, this year, those are still packed away in the attic!

In any case, this year’s ornament was found today - a piece of pounamu or more commonly known as jade or greenstone)  Pounamu may be found at various sites along the West Coast of the South Island and Hokitika is a large source for the jade.  It has a treasured spiritual significance to the Maori.  Having a piece of pounamu is very popular – so popular that jade is now being imported.  We made sure that we had the genuine article and purchased a piece of flower jade.

How did we obtain this treasure?  We spent the day in Hokitika at Bonz ‘N’ Stonz carving this year’s ornament!  I thought I’d put a more “normal” blog entry on this time – you know the one where I show more about about the creative process.  So here’s goes….

image Step 1.  Pick out a design.  The ornament generally represents our favorite part of our trip.  I don’t know that we could pick just one, so we ended up choosing the national symbol of New Zealand, image the silver fern.  I’ll confess right now we even used the Qualmark logo.  Qualmark is a rating system for tourist attractions and endorses certain activities to help a newbie navigate all the offerings.   It’s just beautiful.

Step 2. Create a template.  Here we transferred the design to a sheet of paper and cut it out.

imageStep 3. Transfer the basic outline of the template to the jade and remove the excess via saw blade and grinder.




image Step 4. Continue with grinder to contour the jade so the piece looks more natural and not so flat – i.e. curves and waves in the plane.  From there, grind with the wheel and/or the dremel tool  to get the edges smoother.




image Step 5.  Trace the details of the design onto the jade – first in pencil from the template and then remark with a permanent marker.



image imageStep  6. Begin taking out “larger” pieces of the excess jade with the grinder for between the leaves and drilling out the holes.



image image Step 7.  Grind out smaller portions with a grinding wheels and cylinders on the dremel tool.


image Step 8. Suddenly realize there is no way you are going to finish it today and that you must be at a campsite 200 km away tonight.  Give it to Steve to finish!  Thank him profusely!


Step 9. Photograph the piece!



JaneJeff said...

Again ... how wonderful. Can you imagine that this trip is not going to be your fondest memory for the rest of your lives!!



charlotte said...

What a fantastic piece of jewelry, the green olor is so lovely!

Life Looms Large said...

That is beautiful!!! It looks pretty big and difficult to make. Glad you found a way to get it done!!!

Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas!

That is a cool souvenir. Does it get to stay up all year for its first year in your house?


Jennifer said...

The piece is about the length of my hand and about 3 fingers wide - so it's a pretty significnat size. And I would not be surprised if it gets to stay up for the first year (and mybe then some!)

Theresa said...

Oh gosh, I couldn't put away such a lovely piece of carving and jade. I would find a spot for it year round.
What a great idea to even have this to do. Makes me want to hop a plane and come to NZ just for the fun of designing an ornament....
Since that is quite unlikely to happen, thank you for all the enjoyment your ornament is providing.

Okay, I don't know about you but Weka weka, now that would work it's way into our lexicon easily. It's just fun to say. The bird itself I'm sure has it's fans.
Lovely pictures. That tree Jim is in front of is amazing, as are the the limstone and sandstone formations. I see in one of them a gryphon and another a union cap and the spray itself looks like a frog or bubble eyed goldfish is in there...

sue schwarz said...

how beautiful. That ornament would have a place of honor all the time if it were in my house. What a lovely time you are having. Thank you for sharing with us 'armchair adventurers'.

K Spoering said...

That is gorgeous! What a lovely reminder of the trip, and such a special tradition. Have a good celebration - of everything you're celebrating - down there!